How To Build Cloud-Based Mobile Applications
In these latter days, the creation of backend of mobile applications using services like BaaS (Backend As a Service, sometimes MBaaS is used - Mobile Backend As a Service) become more and more popular. In such circumstances, there is a reasonable question. What are the tasks of such kind of mobile back-end development and why it is becoming the hottest trend.
To find the reasons, we'll try to unscramble this phenomenon. Today, we will investigate several issues with you. What is Baas? How does the process of its creation happen? What are the pros and cons of this type of development? What services will help to complete this task? What is a cloud hosting?
After reading this article, you will understand how to develop a cloud application, whether you need it, and what are the risks of using the cloud-based application development with BaaS. And, as a bonus, it will be easier to choose a hosting service for your application.
What is BaaS and what is the cloud app?
Today, most of the mobile applications require a backend, which is able to carry on the maximum number of tasks but with the use of the minimum number of services. BaaS stands for Backend as a Service. It is created in order to reduce the time of working with the backend of applications. Typically, using such services, you have a set of ready-made APIs and SDKs. BaaS providers are divided into two categories:
- consumer BaaS;
- enterprise BaaS.
The first one is focused on mobile applications such as games and branded products. The second one, in turn, is generally made for 'heavyweights'.
The set of basic back-end functions includes the following:
- cloud storage;
- integration with social networks;
- server-side code;
- user administration;
- SDK for popular platforms;
- background tasks;
- errors analytics.
Each of them has its own API, which should be implemented into an application. Building cloud applications greatly simplifies the process.
Top BaaS providers
What do we need to develop an application with the backend in the cloud? The first step is to choose the service with which we'll implement our idea.
In that case, we have two options.
- To choose a service that will host the ready-made backend on the cloud. Among such services, there are Amazon Web Services, Heroku, and others. In this case, the server code is created by a developer and hosted by one of the cloud services.
- To use BaaS type services. With the use of such services, developers have a set of tools with which they create a backend. Precisely this way, the time to develop applications is reduced.
Each of these services offers quite a multifarious set of tools for the back-end building.
In this part, we propose to consider some providers with the use of which development is carried out directly in the cloud. We have identified the most popular ones for you.
It is a cloud app platform that enables the fastest speed to complete the task. It appeared one of the first and at the moment is one of the most popular and most developed. In the free version, you have the ability to serve up to 200 active users. To increase this number, you will need to purchase the paid version. This is one of that platforms, which is aimed at enterprise applications.
The services of this cloud development platform includes:
- push notification;
One of the cloud application development services that provides the fastest kind of development for a small price. The maximum focus is on IoT (Internet of Things) development.
This platform has an online designer for:
- back-end code;
- mobile app code;
- mobile API code.
This is one of those cloud application development platforms, which minimally restrict the developer and allow him to create applications more easily. So the cost is most controlled by the developer. AnyPresence is enterprise focused.
Appcelerator has some frameworks on the client side and some API types for the cloud. It is aimed at enterprise clients. It can run Node modules. Appcelerator is also aimed at cross-platform solutions. With the help of this resource, it is simple to scale your application. And also, in the case of problems with the server, it is easy to move the application to another one.
It is the of the most popular services. Here is just a huge set of tools and capabilities for the developer. After the closure of the Parse it was one of those services that a large number of Parse users are migrating to.
It is good for both consumer and enterprise BaaS. It has a friendly interface and is easy for the developer. Kumulos supports the development of:
Built.io is also oriented for enterprise applications. This cloud-based platform allows customers to deploy mobile apps in:
- private cloud environments;
- public cloud environments;
- hybrid cloud environments.
FeedHenry is a platform based on Node.js. It has a wide array of integrations, both online and offline development options, collaborative app building, and a drag-and-drop form builder. It has more than 50 Node.js plug-ins and is perfect for big applications.
Pros and cons of the cloud-based app development with BaaS services
- The data storage control panel. Due to that panel, it's possible to create, edit and view elements.
- Price for use. Many cloud services provide the trial period service or basic set of functionality for free. For example, you may have a limited amount of memory on the server or other limitations. When you purchase a paid account, you get the access to more advanced features.
- Price for development. You will be agreeably surprised to find out the final cost of your application. This is because the use of BaaS promotes the significant reduction of development costs. It happens due to the fact that this kind of mobile cloud development requires less time. And, as we know it is the time spent on the development of the application is converted to its cost.
See also: How much does it cost to create an app?
At this point, still worth mentioning that in some cases the free version is enough. It is true for small applications with a small number of features and users. But if your application has a claim to be a flagship, you should consider purchasing the paid version.
- High speed. Applications created in this way have a higher speed to develop. This is due to the development of cloud services, providing the VPS (Virtual Private Service) for a song.
- Simplicity. Learning how to work with cloud development environment is quite simple. They are easy to learn and intelligible to use.
- Easy to scale. Projects created using cloud computing development is much easier to scale.
+/- No need to write server-side code. Everything is done by the SDK requests in an application. The disadvantage is that in order to change the behavior of the server side it is necessary to update the application, which can be a difficulty in the case of cross-platform applications.
- The risk of code damaging. The fact that the main tasks are shifted to the client side is unsafe itself. There is a risk that one attacker can catch away your API-key. This is real if the data is not bounded to the account. But services provide functions that can protect your product from such risks in some way.
- Restrictions. Some BaaS services imply a certain number of restrictions for cloud app development. Using some services developer feels like Mowgli, boxed in a small apartment. Experienced coders are heroically trying to circumvent these limits, but it is not always possible.
- The risk of data loss. Just as in the case of cloud application hosting, there is a small, but very real possibility that something can happen with a server you have chosen. From the crash failure to complete closure or destruction. In the first case, it will lead to a limited functioning for a while. But in the second case, it could cause the complete loss of an application.
Just a little time ago, it happened to one of the most popular BaaS services Parse.com. In late January, Facebook announced the closure in a year. By the by, at that moment, there were about 500 000 applications on the server. But in the case of Parse.com, it's not all that bad. The owners have been given enough time and tools to move the backend to other services.
BTW, if you have an application developed on Parse, and you still haven't decided what to do with it, our developers have the answer. Thus, to migrate your application to another service safely, please contact us. We know what to do.
- Difficulties in testing. Since the server-side code is not in simple access, the developers may have difficulties with testing of a mobile cloud application. When you have the source code it is much simpler. But if, in order to get to it, you need to go through a bunch of labyrinths, everything is not so rosy.
-It is not suitable for big projects. The best solution, in this case, is to use services like AWS (Amazon Web Services) or Microsoft Azure, for example.
And if I don't want to use these services, you may ask? There is an alternative. And not even one.
Alternative # 1
The first one is to use the server-side technology, and thus, create your own backend and store it on your own server. But there is one thing.
If your application is ready to be the next Facebook or Instagram, spending on the maintenance of your own server will be enormous in comparison to cloud apps development. They just do not in the same league.
Even if your application is quite small and doesn't have a lot of features, there is a reason to think about. Whether you have the opportunity to create your own server? It should be understood that the creation is not the whole story. It will be necessary to contain and maintain it. And it runs into expenditures.
Besides, mBaaS services are ideal for creating MVP (Minimum Viable Product). So you have an opportunity to implement and test the original idea without much cost.
And then, if you find your account in that app, you can hire a know-all team and scale and change it as you wish.
Alternative # 2
The second option is to create your own backend and use cloud application hosting. This option is more time consuming. But instead, it eliminates some risks with the BaaS development. Such applications easier to test and there are fewer restrictions for the developer.
In this case, the development costs can be higher, but the quality is much better.
So what to choose?
After considering alternatives, it can be concluded that in most cases the best advice is not to choose whether to use cloud services or not, but to choose which one will suit you best.
Choosing the best service for your application is a rather difficult task. Usually, the choice of developers are guided by the following principles:
- ease of development;
- application tasks;
- personal preferences.
Anyway, a silver bullet for all problems with a choice is to resort to the real professionals, who take to that option like a duck to water. Therefore, if you have any further questions, feel free to contact our managers.
They will find a solution for your specific situation and take into account all your needs. It will save you from wandering in the darkness. Our staff will help you to finish the preparation phase in a record time and set about the application development.
With us, you don't need to bother with such issues. Be sure, we'll find a solution for you.